What is your relationship with uncertainty like?

What is your relationship with uncertainty like?

Considering what your relationship with uncertainty is like has probably not featured as something to think about. Unless of course you’ve had to deal with a challenging health issue, whether your own or someone else’s. Or another significant life event that brought a high degree of the unknown into your life.

For many people when they have to deal with a lot of uncertainty, they can end up feeling out-of-sorts. Which is understandable. They take appropriate measures to deal with their out-of-sorts feelings, which is good. Or try to suppress them, which isn’t as good.

And it tends to stop there. The aim is to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings. Not a bad aim, don’t get me wrong. But there isn’t any further reflection on why the uncertainty happens and one’s relationship with it as a way to improve it.

What I want to do is provide some questions for you to reflect on what your relationship with uncertainty is like as the first step to improving it. Particularly as there is so much uncertainty about due to coronavirus and the lockdown. Much more than many of us are used to. Finding ways to deal effectively with uncertainty can enable you to live with more ease during uncertain times.

A woman is sitting on a chair. She is frowning, looking uncertain and asking herself the questions: "What am I to do? How can I feel better? Why do I feel this way? When will it stop? Who can help. I feel so out of control." Next to her is standing Uncertainty. It has its hand on the back of her chair and is saying, 'I'm your new friend.' This is what it can be like to live with uncertainty. What is your relationship with uncertainty like? Check out www.returntowellness.co.uk for advice on how to do that and keep your sanity particularly if you're feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown.

When uncertainty happens

Uncertainty occurs when situations and events happen and you don’t know how to deal with them or you think you don’t know how to deal with them (but you actually do know). There may also be a lot of additional unknowns, conflicting and/or unclear information, a lot of change happening quickly and no clear timeline on when the situation will end.

All this can lead to feeling out-of-sorts, anxiety and panic even. Which is often due to feeling out-of-control and powerless. We humans don’t like those feelings.

The coronavirus pandemic is a perfect example of uncertainty in action.

What is your relationship with uncertainty like?

When you look at your relationship with uncertainty, it’s also helpful to look at your relationship to not knowing, change, dealing with ambiguity and fear. Because they fuel uncertainty. This is a big topic so I am going to only focus on dealing with not knowing and the fear that can result. I start with a pretty big question.

The picture shows that not knowing what to do (or thinking you don't know what to do), all the unknowns, dealing with unclear and conflicting info, lots of change and no clear timeline or end in sight all create uncertainty. And fear. A woman is standing looking at all this saying, 'I feel out of control and powerless.' This can make your relationship with uncertainty hard.

What’s it like for you when you don’t know something?

What I often see when clients, people, colleagues, and me don’t know something, we can rush to a solution. As I explained in this video, the anxiety around not knowing can fuel that rush to an answer or solution. But in that rush, we can miss the solution that would work really well for us. Because we don’t slow down and give space for the right solution to arise.

So the next question to consider is…

If you feel anxiety around not knowing, what is that about?

What is it about not knowing that produces anxiety?

Sometimes the anxiety around not knowing took root in childhood in response to how we saw the people present in our life deal with not knowing and their responses to us when we ourselves did not know. As a result, we may have absorbed helpful or unhelpful messages about not knowing.

A question to ask yourself is whether how you respond now to uncertainty and not knowing reminds you of how you responded as a child to situations where you didn’t know the answer and/or there was a lot of uncertainty. And does it remind you of how other people close to you responded to not knowing and uncertainty.

Some questions to help you explore your relationship with #uncertainty: What’s it like for you when you don’t know something? If you feel anxiety around not knowing, what is that about? #wellness Click To Tweet

Here’s an example using myself

Growing up, the message I absorbed what that it was not ok to not know the answer to a question you were asked or to not know how to do something you were told to do. Whether this was at home, in school or elsewhere. When I didn’t know the answer or know how to do something, people would make fun of me or, particularly if they were adults, tell me that I should know or get mad.

Not knowing became linked to feeling shame – I wasn’t enough for the people around me. So I developed in part an unhealthy relationship with not knowing. This part of me coped by developing a Please People driver (Hay, 2009) – ‘If I know the answer, I’ll please the people around me and they will love me.’

And yet, the curious part of me would wonder why couldn’t we just figure it out together if I/we didn’t know something? Thankfully, she stayed with me throughout childhood well into adulthood and is still with me today. This part of me is the one that says to clients in response to their dilemmas and issues: Everything is figure-out-able. Let’s figure this out together.

An approach of ‘everything is figure-out-able’ can help you deal with #uncertainty with more ease #wellness Click To Tweet

If you realise that your response to not knowing and uncertainty was learned from others in your young life or in response to what they said or did to you, that self-awareness can help you to choose a different response today.

Sometimes the not knowing breeds fear

This can be the case in respect to coronavirus. The fear of catching the virus and how one could be affected for example. And how a loved one who is elderly or has health issues is affected by the current situation and could be if they caught the virus. These are very real and legitimate concerns that can also feel scary. You can be afraid for your existence and that of your loved ones.

The length of time the not knowing goes on can also feed the fear. Here is what helped a client of mine in that situation.

One thing is certain about uncertainty

There will always be uncertainty.

This is an original quote by Barbara Babcock of Return to Wellness®. It says: One thing is certain. There will always be uncertainty.

I don’t mean to be flippant in saying that. It’s a fact. And a paradox.

The client I said this to was dealing with ongoing uncertainty about the unpredictability of symptoms in relation to her chronic health condition. She didn’t know if symptoms would appear from one day to the next, how bad or not they would be and therefore how she would and could deal with it. She described as having ‘to be in it for the long haul’ and was understandably feeling upset as a result.

Acknowledging that the uncertainty would always be there helped this client. She said, ‘It puts it in a box.’

Acknowledging is powerful because when you name something – for example, that uncertainty will always be present – you make the unknown known to yourself. When you do that, it changes what felt like an unknown large thing that is everywhere to something that is easier to hold. That helps you to contain any fears you may hold around uncertainty more easily.

A woman is standing at a table. On the table is a large box. The woman is putting uncertainty into the box and saying, 'I'm going to put uncertainty into this box. I've got things to figure out and sort.' The point is that when we acknowledge uncertainty, it can make living with it easier. Our relationship with uncertainty is improved because we are no longer denying it.

A final thought about your relationship with uncertainty

When I did a masters in coaching psychology, an article I referenced in my dissertation mentioned: ‘Appraisals of illness uncertainty also influence how people evaluate and incorporate an illness into their lives (Babrow, 2007; Babrow & Matthias, 2009; Mishel, 1999; Mishel & Clayton, 2003).’

This came from the article ‘Patients’ and Partners’ Perspectives of Chronic Illness and Its Management by Checton et al (2012).

We can broaden that statement to uncertainties that appear in our lives beyond illness or injury: ‘Appraisals of pandemic uncertainty also influence how people evaluate and incorporate a pandemic into their lives.’

I am not saying you have to say yes to the pandemic, agree with it, or welcome it. It’s just about acknowledging that it is here, it’s having an impact and that impact may be positive in some ways to downright awful in others.

Incorporating the pandemic into your life is also about managing its impact, which won’t always be simple or easy, so you still retain some quality of life. There’s a focus on yeah, this isn’t fun or easy, it can be scary, AND there is still good in my life.

What’s it like for you?

How would you describe your relationship with uncertainty? To what degree does not knowing impact it? What ideas have you got from this article to help you in managing your relationship with uncertainty? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

References

Checton, M.G. PhD, Greene, K. PhD, Magsamen-Conrad, K. PhD, Venetis, M.K. PhD (2012) Patients’ and Partners’ Perspectives of Chronic Illness and Its Management, Families, Systems, & Health, Vol. 30, No. 2, 114–129.

Hay, J. (2009) Transactional Analysis for Trainers, 2nd edition. Hertford, UK: Sherwood Publishing.

How to manage stress and anxiety

How to manage stress and anxiety

We’re not often taught in life how to manage stress and anxiety. Yet it’s something many of us deal with on a day-to-day basis. At times it can feel like it gets into the driving seat of one or more parts of your life. It’s understandable, life happens like that.

Watch this video to learn one way of how to manage stress and anxiety you may be feeling.

You’ll learn what stress and anxiety are, why it happens and a simple exercise you can do to get back in the driving seat of your life. I also talk about why many of us are experiencing increased anxiety levels during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

The picture shows two people in a car. The license plate says 'self-care'. The woman in the passenger seat is saying, 'But I want to exercise and look after myself.' The person who is driving, which is anxiety, is saying, 'No you can't! You must do what I want! Now let me drive!' This picture demonstrates the impact of anxiety when it is in the driving seat of a part of your life. The anxiety can take over and drive your actions.

The exercise on how to manage stress and anxiety develops your heart, mind and soul fitness

It does that by raising your self-awareness. As you do the exercise, I would like you to do it with a hefty dose of self-compassion for yourself rather than harsh judgement.

This exercise is not meant as a means for you to judge yourself as doing something wrong, not being good enough or to be self-critical. It is meant to nourish your heart, mind and soul.

If you have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety, please read this

The exercise mentioned here can help. But if you think it might raise a lot of emotions which are incredibly unpleasant, overwhelming and you have little to no control over them, then I recommend you do the exercise with the support of a qualified practitioner who has experience of supporting people who experience anxiety. Particularly if you have never done such an exercise before.

Additional support when doing this exercise

You can also do the following whether or not you have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety.

1. Hold a favourite object which reminds you of the here and now. The purpose of this is to keep you anchored in the present time. So as you do the exercise, you know that ultimately you are in the here and now.

2. You can time bound the exercise and just do it for 1-2 minutes for a start. It’s ok to do the exercise in stages over a period of time rather than all in one go.

You are in charge of you

The exercise in this video can help you take healthy control of stress and anxiety, learn from it and be in charge of you.

In watching this video, you acknowledge that you take full responsibility for your emotional wellness and wellbeing, and any decisions you take as a result of watching it.

Picture of an original quote by Return To Wellness saying: You are the CEO of you. So you're in charge. This is very much the case when you want to manage your health issue successfully.

How to manage stress and anxiety so you can get back in the driving seat of your life

The video is 45 minutes long and I use slides to give a visual of what I’m saying. So grab a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy the video!

How to manage stress and anxiety so you can get back in the driving seat of your life

As we do physical fitness for our bodies, what about fitness for our hearts, minds and souls? They need nourishing exercise too. Here's one to help you manage any #stress and #anxiety you may be feeling #wellness… Click To Tweet

What’s it like for you?

What did you learn about how to manage stress and anxiety? Was there anything you knew already? What is the one thing you will do differently going forwards? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you would like support on learning how to manage stress and anxiety, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

What do you think of the poem And People Stayed Home

What do you think of the poem And People Stayed Home

A poem titled And People Stayed Home has been making the rounds because it resonates with what many people hope is an outcome of this lockdown.

The author of the poem has been referred to as a Kathleen O’Meara, an Irish-French Catholic writer and biographer during the late Victorian era, but that is incorrect. It was actually written by Catherine M. O’Meara. She published the poem on her website on 16 March 2020 titled In the Time of Pandemic (Politifact, The Poynter Institute, retrieved 30 April 2020).

In the Time of Pandemic is a beautiful poem. I really like it. It speaks to the large part of me that searches for the good in tough situations and tries to grow from them.

Although the poem is a lovely desired-for outcome, and one I would very much like to see happen, this won’t be everyone’s experience of lockdown. Psychiatrists and psychologists are already predicting that the coronavirus pandemic could have a ‘profound’ effect on people’s mental health and are calling for urgent research.

A woman is sitting on a chair and she looks sad. She is sitting near a window and outside the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Behind her her partner is saying, "It's hard hun, I know. Let's go for a walk while the sun is out." What is your experience of the pandemic like? Is it like the woman in this picture or something different. Read the blog and share what your experience is like in the comments.

So I was inspired to write an alternative poem

To show a different reality people may be experiencing at this time. I think it’s important that the many different experiences people are having during this lockdown are recognised and acknowledged.

You can read the original poem here. I recommend you read that first.

I really like the poem some people are referring to as And People Stayed Home but is actually called In the Time of Pandemic by Catherine O’Meara. It seems to show the show the benefits #lockdown can have. But not everyone will… Click To Tweet

An alternative poem to And People Stayed Home / In the Time of Pandemic

To Find Some Kind of Normality Again

The people were told to stay at home.

They felt caged and out-of-sorts.

So they binged on Netflix and snacked,

drank wine and wore pajamas (a lot),

struggled to home school,

lost their jobs,

and felt anxiety like never before.

Someone switched off the news

someone cursed

someone cried

someone lost hope.

The people began to wonder what it’s all for.

And the people became worried and depressed.

And in the absence of people who could lift them up,

hopeful, empathetic, kind,

even the earth began to feel the weight.

And when the lockdown ended

and people could gather again

feeling dazed and numb

and they wondered what life could bring them now

and dreamt of the life they once had

and struggled to make sense of everything

and so gathered with what felt like long-lost friends to drink wine

to find some kind of normality again.

The picture is of the poem Barbara Babcock of Return to Wellness wrote as a response to the poem And People Stayed At Home, otherwise known as In The Time of The Pandemic by Catherine O'Meara. Here is the poem: The people were told to stay at home. They felt caged and out-of-sorts. So they binged on Netflix and snacked, drank wine and wore pajamas (a lot), struggled to home school, lost their jobs, and felt anxiety like never before. Someone switched off the news, someone cursed, someone cried, someone lost hope. The people began to wonder what's it all for. And the people became worried and depressed. And in the absence of people who could lift them up, hopeful, empathetic and kind, even the earth began to feel the weight. And when the lockdown ended, and people could gather again, feeling dazed and numb and they wondered what life could bring them now, and dreamt of the life they once had, and struggled to make sense of everything, and so gathered with what felt like long-lost friends to drink wine to find some kind of normality again.

A note

In using similar language as the author of In the Time of Pandemic, i.e. ‘someone’, ‘and in the absence of people’, ‘and the earth began’, I want to pay homage to what felt like the rhythm of that poem. And to provide a response to it, an alternative view of how people may be experiencing lockdown.

I want to stress that in no way do I mean this as any form of disrespect to the author of In the Time of Pandemic or her work. As I mentioned above, I really like the poem she wrote.

Make your contribution to the nation’s mental health

Researchers at University College London are conducting a research project about your psychological and social experiences during this period of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out more and take part here.

This kind of research helps to take the psychological pulse of the nation during the pandemic to understand the effects on the nation’s health. The results can also

help develop ways to support people psychologically and socially during the outbreak.

If you have the time and/or inclination to take part, please do.

What’s it like for you

What do you think of the poem And People Stayed Home/ In the Time of Pandemic? An unrealistic outcome or one you hope for? If you were to write a poem about your experience of lockdown, what would it be? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are struggling on dealing with the impact of lockdown and would like support, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to improve your mental health with five a day

How to improve your mental health with five a day

What do you to improve your mental health? Like we are encouraged to have five types of vegetables and fruit every day, what are your five go to activities to maintain or improve your mental health?

Like we are encouraged to have 5 fruit and veg a day, what are your five go-to activities to maintain or improve your #mentalhealth? Read more here #5aday #FiveADayForMentalHealth Click To Tweet

Our mental health is being tested right now

What with everything going on in the world – all the change you’ve had to deal with, the unknowns, the uncertainty, the loss of your normal life which I wrote about here – your mental health is being tested and you may be feeling the strain. That is a normal response.

So focusing on improving your mental health is important

Like we have a fridge, freezer and cupboards for our food, do you have a mental health cupboard for all the activities that can improve your mental health? Is that cupboard well stocked or is it a bit bare?

A woman is in her kitchen. She has opened her mental health cupboard and there are only a few items in it. A book on cooking, some yarn for knitting and crochet and a bottle of something to drink. She is saying, "My mental health cupboard is looking rather bare." The caption reads: How well stocked is your mental health cupboard? Are you giving yourself five-a-day to improve your mental health?

Time to do a stock take of your mental health cupboard

If your cupboard is well stocked, a stock take will remind you of what is there that you can use.

If you haven’t tended to this cupboard recently, now’s the time to open it, see what’s there and add to it.

And if you don’t have a mental health cupboard, now’s the time to create one. A shelf will also do.

What five-a-day can be in your mental health cupboard?

Here’s a not exhaustive list of activities that can be in your mental health cupboard. You can choose your five-a-day to nourish and improve your mental health from here.

  • Letting yourself feel sad/upset/confused etc when you feel that rather than suppressing it (remember, you don’t have to unpack and live here)
  • Noticing and acknowledging how you feel – the good, the not-so-good and the downright ugly
  • Reaching out for support – coaching, therapy, peer support, good friend, cuddle your pet
  • 5 minutes practicing mindfulness – paying attention to what you’re doing, feeling, thinking and/or your breath without judgement
  • Setting an intention for your day – What you will give to your day to make it good enough for you
  • Reminding yourself that you are enough as you are right now
  • Patting yourself on the back when you feel you’ve done well at something
  • Showing yourself compassion when you notice you’re beating yourself up or something doesn’t go to plan
  • Noting three things that went well or ok enough in your day
  • Noting what you’re thankful for
  • Listening to birdsong
  • Gardening
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Walking/rolling in nature
  • Exercise
  • Running/ Sport
  • Colouring
  • Painting
  • Knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint
  • Drawing
  • Singing
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Listening to music
  • Photography
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Writing stories, poetry, articles, blogging
  • Cooking a nice meal
  • Baking
  • Sewing
  • Carpentry
  • Developing ways to help, nurture and reassure yourself
  • Spending time going after something you really want for yourself whatever this may be – new job/career, writing a book, spending more time with your children, a qualification, developing a new hobby, returning to an old hobby, developing a mindfulness practice, whatever
  • Doing something kind for someone/ helping others
  • Spending time with pets
  • Having your favourite tea/coffee

There's a woman in her kitchen stocking her mental health cupboard. It is looking much more full. The woman is saying, "My mental health cupboard is looking more full. I've got choices!" There are three bags on the counter she has been unpacking: mental health, soul health and heart health. Nearby is a bowl of fruit and above it a sign hangs on the wall which says 'Remember your 5-a-day'. This is alluding to the fact that just as we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for our physical health, we also need to remember to take five-a-day for our heart, mind and soul. The caption of the picture reads: Make sure your mental health cupboard is stocked full.

Your five-a-day can contain the mundane tasks too

Doing the everyday mundane tasks in life like making your bed, tidying, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc. Many people think this isn’t part of self-care but actually they are. They help to keep your life going.

I start my day with making my bed. It’s a nice and easy win and looking at a tidy bed makes me smile.

The everyday mundane tasks relating to you are also important like brushing your teeth, getting dressed even if it’s slobby lounge wear, etc. These small tasks are an easy way to show yourself that you matter.

Just make sure that your five-a-day isn’t consumed by the mundane tasks. There is a case for making room for other activities which nourish you on a heart and soul level and help you stay resilient.

Sometimes though this can be hard

If you have children who need to be home schooled, fed, played with, washed, cuddled, etc. Or you’re caring for someone who has many needs. Sometimes the mundane tasks occupy your entire day. And at the end you don’t have much energy left over for yourself.

That’s a tough place to be day after day. Then it’s about only focusing on the most essential mundane tasks. And catching any (and all) short periods of quiet and calm time to do something for yourself.

The everyday mundane tasks relating to you are important like brushing your teeth, getting dressed even if it’s just slobby lounge wear, etc. These small tasks are an easy way to show yourself that you matter. #5aday… Click To Tweet

And that is what this is all about – demonstrating to yourself that you matter

Taking conscious action to nourish and improve your mental health is just as important as the action you take to nourish your physical body. It is you demonstrating to yourself that all of you matters.

So what will your five-a-day today be?

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness: "What will your five-a-day be today to nourish your health, mind and soul?" The point is just as we ensure we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables for our physical health, what five things can you do everyday to improve your mental health?

What’s it like for you?

What are your go-to five-a-day to nourish and improve your mental health? What’s in your mental health cupboard that isn’t in the list above? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to survive lockdown: Advice from people with chronic illness

How to survive lockdown: Advice from people with chronic illness

Learning how to survive lockdown is something we are all doing right now. Right around the world. Based on my experience working as a coach supporting people living with challenging chronic illnesses, I think they have a lot to teach us on how to do that. Because many of them have been in a form of lockdown well before coronavirus came along.

I am thinking about people living with energy limiting illnesses like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Some may have been housebound for years.

Others may not be housebound all the time and may able to lead what looks to be a normal life, but they have to deal with issues of isolation and/or uncertainty of relapse. Such as people living with diabetes, other conditions that have unpredictable fluctuating symptoms like chronic pain and fatigue, and people who have/had cancer.

Living in isolation from family and friends and not able to go about our pre-coronavirus daily routines can be hard. So can living with prolonged uncertainty. Right now, we don’t know when this lockdown will end. But also the anxiety of reduced or not much income is really stressful too. And getting needed groceries, medications and more.

So here I share the ten things we can learn from people living with chronic illness on how to survive a lockdown. They are in no particular order and it’s not an exhaustive list.

A woman is seated on a chair experiencing anxiety. She is asking herself, "How am I going to survive lockdown?" The caption reads: How do you plan to survive lockdown? And maybe even thrive?

How to survive lockdown

1. Look after yourself

When you get a really challenging health issue, you quickly learn that your body is the only one you’ve got. And you need to do what you can to stay as healthy as you can. Get good sleep, get outside to get some exercise once a day, drink lots of water, and eat nourishing food all help.

The same applies to all of us now. Including following social distancing and washing your hands. Because people living with challenging health issues are that much more vulnerable if they get COVID-19. Doing our bit to keep ourselves healthy is also a good thing for the people around us.

2. Listen to your body

Becoming attuned to the sensations you feel in your body is a key skill in learning how to manage the symptoms of a challenging health issue. This helps you identify what triggers symptoms, when you may be getting a flare and if the measures you are taking to manage your symptoms are working or not.

Learning to listen to your body is equally important if you do not have any major health issues. It will allow you to spot signs of stress and anxiety and therefore manage and alleviate them sooner.

A quote, source unknown, about listening to your body: "If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won't have to hear it scream." This is important when you're dealing with a challenging health issue like COVID-19, even if you don't have it. Listening to your body is a key how to survive lockdown tip.

3. Manage the impact of stress

Managing the impact of stress is so important when living with a challenging health issue. Because stress can exacerbate symptoms and that can limit what you’re able to do.

You cannot prevent stress from happening so your focus has to be on how you manage the impact of stress. Like with the coronavirus pandemic. This is a key how to survive lockdown tip.

You cannot control that coronavirus has happened. So worrying about that is energy that isn’t being well spent. Focus your energy instead on what you can influence and directly control. This helps you to move through stressful situations and lessen their negative impact on you.

4. Focus on the essential activities

When you’re living with symptoms like chronic pain and/or fatigue, there are many days when you can’t do very much at all. So you have to focus on the essential activities. And what is considered essential can change from day to day depending on how you are.

Some days you’ll have the energy to wash, cook a meal and do another activity like read a book or write a blog post. Other days, you may only be able to venture to the toilet and the fridge because your body isn’t capable of doing anything else.

For those of you who do not have health issues, the advice is not to overload yourself with activities, things to do, etc. If the essential is making sure there is food on the table, you and your kids get some exercise, you get some work done and the kids do a bit of schooling, that is enough. You don’t need to become an expert teacher for your kids or come out of lockdown with a toned and super fit body. Go gently.

How to survive #lockdown – Tip 4 – Focus on the essential activities. You don’t need to become an expert teacher for your kids or come out of lockdown with a toned and super fit body. Go gently #wellness Read the other tips here Click To Tweet

5. Be prepared to adapt

When you’re living with a health issue where your symptoms fluctuate on a day-to-day basis, you have to learn how to adapt your schedule, what you can do on any given day and even how you approach the activities you do. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices like cancel an engagement to see friends. Or figure out how to cook meals that don’t take as much preparation.

People with disabilities often have to adapt to an environment that hasn’t been built to take into account their needs. They have to constantly adapt to obtain some sense of inclusion.

Living in lockdown means we have to adapt a lot. No, we won’t always like having to do that. But being willing to find ways to adapt what we need to and to experiment can make life easier. And that means less stress. Which is a really good thing right now.

6. Proactively manage the impact of isolation

A sense of isolation can quickly set in when you’re living with a challenging health issue where you cannot go out much and fluctuating symptoms mean you have to cancel plans at the last minute. It’s hard enough when you’re the only one amongst your family and friends who has the illness you have. It gets even harder when you can’t see family and friends much and friendships drift away as a result.

The virtual world is often the only connection people who are housebound due to their chronic illness have with the outside world. And they very much value this connection.

The virtual world may not be the ideal for everyone but right now it’s something. Use it. And when using it, make sure to focus on the good aspects of using it – catching up with family and friends, supporting one another, doing activities together. If you only focus on how much you hate it, then that could contribute to an increased sense of loneliness.

How to survive #lockdown – Tip 6 – Proactively manage the impact of isolation and loneliness. Get connected in the virtual world. It may not be the ideal, but now it’s something. #wellness Read the other tips here Click To Tweet

7. Your support network is key

So many people living with challenging health issues have told me how important social media is to them. It enables them to make friends and have a support network.

Many of us are social beings and crave connection. This is important at any time and especially important now that we often cannot see our loved ones, friends and work colleagues in person.

Your support network, even if many of them you can only see virtual is vital. Make time for them. Build your network if you have to. It’s important to think about this in respect to your partner/spouse. One person cannot meet all of our needs. Thinking about who may not be on your team but you would like them to be and making that happen can help. The same thing goes for children. They need their (virtual) support teams too.

Remember, pets are definitely part of your support team.

And sometimes, it’s necessary to let unhealthy relationships go. Often during stressful times we learn who are friends are and who we can and cannot count on.

A woman is sitting on a pouff and her walking sticks are leaning against it. She is petting her dog and saying, "You're definitely part of my healthcare team!" The point is that your pet(s) is a key member of your support team. And play an important role in helping you learn how to survive lockdown.

8. Learning to live with uncertainty is key too

Talk to anyone who has been through cancer treatment and now has no evidence of disease. They live with uncertainty every single day. People who have had a heart attack or stroke at a younger expected age or have another kind of illness that can relapse live with something similar.

They live with the will it-won’t it come back. Will I get more disabled or not? Will I survive it or not? It’s like a constant shadow. Sometimes the shadow fades a bit but it never quite leaves. These people have had to become an expert at living with uncertainty. And like you now in having to live with the impact of coronavirus and lockdown, they didn’t have that choice. It was foisted on them.

Learning to live with uncertainty is not always easy. Because uncertainty means you don’t know what you don’t know, which means you can feel out of control and powerlessness. We humans hate that feeling. Which leads me to my next point.

9. Appreciate the small things in the here and now

When you’re living with a challenging health issue that brings less choice, uncertainty and a higher degree of isolation into your life, you learn to appreciate the small things in the here and now. Birdsong, the sun streaming through the window, a pretty flower in your garden or a vase, a cup of tea, a favourite tv programme. Because it’s important to have good in your life, whatever size that takes. It balances out the rubbish things which happen.

The same thing applies to everyone who is now learning how to survive lockdown. What are the small things you are grateful for?

10. Having a purpose and routine

When you’re living with a challenging health issue, it’s not uncommon to feel like you no longer have a purpose in life. You end up having to adjust what you mean by that and it may not be an easy process to go through.

What I find that people ultimately learn is what matters is how they define their purpose and that size doesn’t matter. And not to define their purpose according to others’ or societal standards.  

You still very much have a purpose during these times. You may need to adjust it and work to realistic standards you set. Also, having a routine to your day can help you keep your sanity and ensure you do activities that align with your purpose.

A woman is sitting in a chair focusing on her breathing. She is thinking, "I'm going to take 5 minutes everyday just to focus on my breathing." When thinking about how to survive lockdown, she reckoned that having a small purpose of taking 5 minutes to focus on herself was the best thing she could do. The caption makes the point that your purpose during lockdown only needs to be right for you. Size doesn't matter.

What’s it like for you?

How did the advice on how to survive lockdown resonate with you? What are you doing that is helping you to survive lockdown? What are you finding difficult? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

Feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown? This is why

Feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown? This is why

You may be wondering why you’re feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown. In the past few weeks you may have been feeling lethargic, sleeping a lot, or not enough. Maybe you feel really down and sad about everything or your anxiety feels a lot higher. You’re not your normal self.

But you know you’ve got a roof over your head, some food in the fridge, enough loo roll, you’ve got the basics. So why is this out-of-sorts feeling dragging on?

It’s not surprising you’re feeling the way you do. Given what you, your family, the country and the world are currently dealing with in this time of coronavirus, your responses are a normal reaction.

I want to explain four reasons why you’re feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown

These reasons aren’t the whole of your story. There’s a lot else which could be contributing to you feeling the way you do. But these reasons are common to many of us right now no matter where we live in the world.

Knowing the why, even if you can’t change it, helps you to recognise how you’re feeling and name it. That knowledge in itself can help you feel more calm and able to focus on what you can control. And we all want some of that right now.

A woman, who is small in stature is looking at people representing Uncertainty, Change, Loss and Less Freedom. She is saying, 'You're all so big!' Uncertainty is saying, 'Hey! We're moving in! Don't worry about not having room. We fit anywhere!' Less Freedom is saying, 'I need to break free.' Change looks a bit hyper. Loss is crying. The point is life in the time of coronavirus is very much about living with uncertainty, change, loss and less freedom. That will explain in part why you're feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown. Visit www.returntowellness.co.uk to learn how to change that.

Why you’re feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown

1. You have less freedom

In an effort to contain coronavirus, the government has placed restrictions on what you can do, when and with whom. You have less choice and hence less freedom. And freedom is highly prized in our culture. We often don’t like being told what to do and what we can’t do.

Although the government restrictions on moving out and about in the world are necessary to contain #coronavirus, for some people dealing with the loss of choice and freedom can be very difficult. We free much prize freedom in our… Click To Tweet

2. You have shed loads of uncertainty in your life now

Will I or a family member get COVID-19? How would we be affected?

Will I be able to do X, Y or Z later on this year? Maybe that is to get married, go on a special holiday, have a birthday party for a special birthday, graduate from university, etc.

Will I be able to return to school/university as normal in the Autumn?

Will my relationship survive this lockdown?

How long will this lockdown last?

Will I get my bonus at work?

What will the world be like after all this?

You probably have a lot of questions like this swirling around your head about all the unknowns.

We humans don’t like uncertainty. Because lack of certainty feels like loss of control. And you can feel powerless as a result.

A woman is sitting on a chair. She is frowning, looking uncertain and asking herself the questions: "What am I to do? How can I feel better? Why do I feel this way? When will it stop? Who can help. I feel so out of control." Next to her is standing Uncertainty. It has its hand on the back of her chair and is saying, 'I'm your new friend.' This is what it's like to live with uncertainty. Check out www.returntowellness.co.uk for advice on how to do that and keep your sanity particularly if you're feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown.

3. You have a shed load of change to deal with too

Maybe you’ve had to learn how to use Zoom for work, or to stay in touch with family and friends.

Maybe you are self-employed and have had to find a way to get your business online if that is even possible.

Or maybe you’ve lost your job, you’re the breadwinner in your family and you’ve had to quickly find new work. If there is new work to be had.

Or figure out how to work from home, deal with feeling isolated if you live on your own, or how to home school your children and do your job at the same time.

If you had a choice prior to all this happening, you may not have chosen to learn and do what you now have to. This kind of change can feel enforced and unwelcome. It can be hard to deal with.

The reason it can be hard dealing with all the #change during #coronavirus and #lockdown is because it’s not a change we sought for ourselves. It’s been forced on us. Click To Tweet

4. You’re dealing with a lot of loss

There are all sorts of losses you and everyone else are dealing with. Loss of

  • Your normal routine
  • Seeing family and friends
  • Income and what that enables for you
  • Your business and livelihood
  • Access to your favourite activities
  • Needed medical treatment
  • Holiday
  • Taking exams
  • Graduating from sixth form or university
  • Certainty
  • Family, friends, acquaintances even clients or customers due to COVID-19
  • And more

And you could not have prevented a lot of that loss. Cue that powerless feeling again. It’s no wonder you could be feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown.

We are each in our own way dealing with lack of freedom, unwelcome change, shedloads of uncertainty, feeling out of control and powerless, and loss

That’s a lot for you to hold. That’s a lot for any one country to deal with. Right now, the world is holding this.

There is a picture of a world map. On it is written north, south, east, west in the relevant places. Also written on the map is uncertainty, less freedom, loss and change. A woman is also holding balls representing uncertainty, change, loss and less freedom. Her hands and arms are very full with them. This represents what you and the world are dealing with now during this time of coronavirus and can explain why you're feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown. Read the blog on www.returntowellness.co.uk to learn what you can do to cope effectively.

You, and the world, are experiencing grief

Many of us are feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown. Waking up in terror in the middle of the night, feeling intense overwhelm, wanting to hide away from it all, these are normal responses to the intense enormity of what you and the world are dealing with.

They key thing is not to unpack and live there. It’s about how you acknowledge and move through the terror, overwhelm and grief in a healthy way psychologically, physically and socially.

I can and will say more on that but I am going to leave it here as what I’ve written is plenty for now.

In the meantime, tell me what support would help you get through these times

What else would help you manage that feeling out-of-sorts during lockdown and get through it?

It may mean feeling more feeling more in control, feeling more balanced or experiencing. It might be about how to deal with the intensity of living with family members and/or dealing with kids 24/7. Or trying to balance work and home schooling and keep your sanity. Just want to hang out with like-minded people online? Deal with whatever is concerning you right now?

You may want 1-1 support, work in a group, online workshops, more blogs, online chats, something else?

I’d love to know so Return to Wellness® can target its support in a way that would be meaningful for you. Drop your thoughts in the comments below or get in touch via the contact form. I look forward to hearing from you.

What support do you want to help you cope with all the uncertainty, change, etc that you’re dealing with right now? Share your thoughts here #coronavirus #COVD-19 #lockdown Click To Tweet

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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